Friday, October 07, 2011

Cheese plus Soup.

Two of my favourite food words – ‘cheese’ and ‘soup’: put them together and you get - ‘cheese soup’!  I enjoyed a bowl of Stilton Soup while I was in the UK last year, and have been meaning to follow up the concept ever since. The earliest recipe I have found so far is from 1812, and here it is:

Potage de Biberot au Fromage, Gras ou Maigre.
Cheese Soup of both Sorts.
Take about half a pound of bread crumbs, sifted in a cullender, and about a quarter of a pound of Gruiere cheese, commonly called Swiss cheese, or Parmezan; simmer this together in a stew-pan with some good broth (either maigre or gras), until the bread and cheese are well stewed; make a liaison in another pan with three or four yolks of eggs, and as many spoonsful of broth: when ready to serve, mix this last with the first without boiling. This soup must not be very clear nor thick. It should be made with broth without salt, as the cheese may salt it sufficiently. Judgment must always guide you for seasoning.
The Professed Cook (1812), by B.Clermont.

The next recipe is for a very thick soup – it is almost more of a savoury bread pudding. The instruction to ‘simmer  until it is burnt to the bottom’ is unusual – I assume the end result is intended to be browned and crusty, not blackened.

Cheese Soup.
Take a soup dish that will bear the fire and spread over the bottom of it Gruyere cheese cut small with pieces of fresh butter strewed about it; cover this with thin slices of bread and lay cheese, butter and bread alternately until you have enough taking care to finish with the cheese and butter; moisten these layers with stock and let them simmer until it is burnt to the bottom and the liquor is evaporated. When about to send it to table add more stock with a little pepper and let the potage be rather thick than otherwise.
The cook's dictionary, and house-keeper's directory, (1830) by Richard Dolby.

The third recipe starts off as if it intends to become ‘mac‘n cheese’, but ends up as a rich, smooth creamed soup.  Sounds delicious, but why specify a particular type of pasta when it is going to be put through a tamis?

Maccaroni And Parmesan Cheese Soup.
Take a quarter of a pound of riband maccaroni, and boil it till tender in a quart of veal broth; then add three ounces of grated Parmesan cheese, a small quantity of pounded mace, and five pints more of veal broth; boil all together five minutes, and rub it through a tamis cloth; then boil it again for ten minutes, skim it, season it with salt and Cayenne pepper, and add a liaison of four yolks of eggs and cream.
The art of cookery, (1836) by John Mollard

Quotation for the Day.
It's nice to get out of the rat race, but you have to learn to get along
with less cheese.

Gene Parret, on retirement


Les said...

I'm guessing riband (ribbon) macaroni is chosen because it is thinner, only one layer thick, and easier to push through the sieve.

The Old Foodie said...

Good point, Les!

J.W. said...

Interesting! Not what I would have expected, at all.

I'm craving some good cheese soup now, though...

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Jesse - I could whip up a craving for cheese soup anytime, I reckon!